Thank you so much to everyone that read and reviewed this story, I'm so happy you enjoyed it. I've never written in the first person before and thought that it would be a fun exercise, plus I just really wanted to see this story from Edward's point of view. This is the last chapter and I really hope you like it. If you have or have not left a review I'd love to know what you think. Thanks guys!
As Bella tucked our daughter into her bed in our cozy little woodland cottage I had to admit that I'd never felt so content. In all of my years I had never known the anxiety, the uncertainty or the utter terror that I had been forced to endure these many months. To be fair, my life had been a constant whirlwind since Bella had graced it with her very presence, but that anxiety and stress had very quickly given way to a most pleasant and awe inspiring time of discovery.
If one had asked me in the midst of that time if I would ever look back fondly at the upheaval my life was experiencing I would have responded with a vehement no. As it was, I would have been gravely mistaken. That time, when Bella and I first discovered each other, will live in my memory as one of the richest times of my life. It was filled with fear and curiosity, apprehension and desire, love and confusion. I had gone through the entire human experience in just that short time, even if I was not technically human at all.
I supposed, taking my wife's hand and swinging it playfully between us as we walked to our room, that with some distance and reflection I might feel the same way about these last few months of my existence as well. I had been granted the opportunity to see my, truly, blushing bride meet me at the end of an aisle to exchange I do's, I had been given the memory of a wonderful honeymoon full of love and discovery. The gift of my wife's safe transformation from human to vampire had coincided with the birth of my daughter and now I was experiencing the limitless possibilities of a life with those I loved most dearly, uninterrupted by pain or turmoil or concern. Truly, in time, I might be able to put into perspective that I had come by all of these things only by also enduring the pain of watching Bella's near death, the wrenching idea that Alice had defected and the fear hanging over our heads that not only might our daughter have a very short life, but that it might be made even shorter by a Volturi slaughter.
We reached our bedroom and I chose to put all of my musings out of my mind for now. Time would tell if perspective would be mine, but in this moment, the languid feelings of relief still made my body feel loose and calm; made my mind feel at ease. We deserved an evening together to celebrate the fact that we'd been given the chance at a future.
"A night for celebrations." I told her, raising my hand slowly to cup her chin. I could not keep the smoky tones of desire from my voice and I knew she would catch onto my meaning instantly.
But, as per usual, my Bella surprised me.
"Wait." Pulling away, she looked at me hesitantly as if she wanted to tell me something but didn't think she should. I could not possibly imagine what she could have on her mind that I would not be privy too but if it was important enough for her to pull away from me it must be a fairly big issue.
She had my rapt attention immediately.
She smiled slightly at me, as I'm sure that I looked both confused and a bit frightened, and then placed her warm, soft hands on either side of my face.
"I want to try something."
Her eyes fluttered closed and I stared at the perfection of her eyelids, completely at sea as to what she was attempting to do. She was still a newborn and, thusly, quite capable of smashing my head with her increased strength were she so inclined but I was fairly certain she didn't intend to end me right there at the threshold to our bedroom. She could be trying to do something with her shield, but I wasn't sure what she would need direct contact for. After witnessing her enormous success and power on the field of battle today I knew that she required no physical contact to make it work-
…hope it's working. I know I didn't do so well with this when Zafrina and I tried it, but I have less distraction right now too. As long as I keep my eyes closed that is, just looking at him would be distraction enough….
Every nerve in my body came alive with excitement and I had to stifle a stunned gasp. I could hear her!
"Bella!" I whispered breathlessly, my shock so complete that I could utter nothing more. How I had longed for this, for the ability to hear her mind. It had been hidden from me, like a lost treasure that men had spent generations searching for only to die unfulfilled and penniless. I'd come to terms with the fact that I would never hear her, but now my very being hummed with pleasure and excitement.
Oh, it's working. Okay, here goes….
My head was filled with the picture of a fuzzy memory, no doubt from her human mind's eye. She sat at a table with her human friends in what I now recognized was the Forks High cafeteria. Her gaze settled on my family and I at our usual table, before I defected and began sitting with Bella of course. We'd looked so strange and exotic to her. It was fascinating to see through her eyes.
Well at least there are some people here who aren't gawking at me. They don't seem to notice me at all, which is a relief. Except, they don't seem to be noticing much of anything. They're all looking in different directions. Weird. None of them really look that much alike, but they have to be related because they all have that really pale skin. They're almost inhumanly beautiful.
Oh how observant she had been! I had always known her to be exceptionally observant when it came to things that other humans were happy to merely ignore but I had no idea that it went back to her very first exposure to us. Nothing got past her.
Then my mind was filled with an image, though still hazy, of my face.
Look at how perfect he is. He has the face of an angel. Am I blushing?
Her vision became partially obscured by her hair as she hid her face behind it.
It must be hard to be outsiders like they are. No wonder they stay so close together.
It was just like Bella to put everyone's needs and concerns at the forefront of her mind and I had to stifle the urge to take her into my arms. Then her vision shifted a bit to reveal my face again from behind her hair. I was gazing at her and I recalled perfectly that moment when our eyes met. I was just starting to realize that I couldn't pick her mind out from the others. It was incredibly frustrating at the time.
Oh he was looking right at me! Why? Did he want something? He seemed like he wanted something from me. That couldn't be it, what could he possibly want with me? He's just too… too… magnificent.
Always giving me credit I never deserved I stifled a protest in time for her thoughts to shift and reveal a completely new scene. This one was still hazy and human, but revealed a picturesque place, rioting with color and sunlight and I knew it was our meadow. She turned her gaze from the surrounding luxuriance of nature and focused down at my prone form. I lay in the grass, my shirt open to reveal the sparkling of my unnatural flesh and my own mind turned back to how I'd felt in those moments. I had been so afraid that she would be revolted by everything I was revealing. I was not human, I was a killer; designed to lure her in and suck her dry. I sparkled in the sun in my diamond hard shell while my flesh was freezing to the touch and I was both sure and terrified all at once that she would turn and run from me once that realization struck her.
To think I'd ever found something like this meadow spectacular when something as beautiful as Edward exists. I have to touch him. If I don't I won't be able to tell myself later that this was real, that it really happened.
She reached out one solitary finger; tentative for fear that I would evaporate before her, and stroked the back of my hand. The memory of that moment, for me, was one I'd cherished in my top memories for some time now. It was the first time that I had allowed her to purposefully touch me for I had been so convinced, up to that point, that she would be filled with nothing but disgust at my cold, hard skin. When I'd finally allowed her to touch me as she wished I'd been filled with sensations that were almost more than I'd been equipped to bear.
Her skin had felt like fire while it was impossibly soft and pleasing all at once. A woman had never touched me before, especially one that I was in love with for I'd never been in love before either. The magnitude of that experience changed me. It was when I started to believe, little by little, that I might be able to have a real love relationship with her and not harm her. I just had to be very, very careful.
He's not telling me to stop, which seems like a good sign. I hope he doesn't, but he might want me to and is too polite to ask.
"Do you mind?"
In her memory I lay motionless before her, my eyes softly closed as I let her run her fingertips up and down my arm.
"No. You can't imagine how that feels."
Good, because I really didn't want to have to stop. Not when it feels so, right, to touch him. Not when he's finally letting me really know him. I wonder what his palm would feel like. Would it be softer than the rest of him? Like a human's palm?
My memory self flipped my palm over with a speed that had felt normal to me, but now seeing it through her eyes, looked unnaturally fast. She had always had a way of making me forget any pretense and just be myself.
Look at how his skin glitters when I move his hand around. Like crystals.
Then her memory jumped forward a bit.
"And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…."
Love. He didn't exactly say he loved me but that is what he's trying to say, right? I'm sure he can hear my heart pounding right now. I'm glad he isn't looking at me. I bet my cheeks are beyond red. Could he really love me? I don't see how, I'm completely ordinary and he is like a god.
I would have chastened her had I not been so engrossed in what she was showing me, in what I'd always been desperate to know from her side. How could she take one look at my family and me and know that we were not natural while on the other hand she could utterly miss my every early attempt to tell her how desperately in love with her I was? There had been so many times I'd felt I made my feelings abundantly plain and she had missed my intent time and time again.
Her memory wavered again and this time we were an hour or so in the future from the previous memory. My breathing hitched, as I knew precisely which memory she was about to show me for each nuance of this one was etched indelibly into my mind as well.
She was about to show me the first time I'd kissed her.
"I was thinking there was something I wanted to try."
He's taking my face into his hands. Does he want to kiss me? Earlier he didn't seem to feel like he could trust himself to be even remotely close to me and now he's going to kiss me? Oh please let that be it. I can't breathe. His hands feel so good on my face. How could he ever think of himself as a monster when he can be this gentle? Oh God I can't breathe. His face is coming closer. He smells so sweet. Why is he hesitating? He's testing himself. I know he is. I have to hold very still, let him know that he can handle this.
I saw myself move closer, lower my lips softly to hers.
I can't think, he's filling every one of my senses. I have to have more of him, I have to feel him against me. I can't breathe! I need him! All of him! His hair is so soft, if he would just part his lips a bit more. I can't get close enough. I love him. Oh God, I love him.
I squeezed my eyes tightly at the words swimming through my mind, mingling with my own memories of that day, and I felt my eyes prickle as if tears could fall from them. I'd come to accept that Bella believed that she loved me as intensely, as deeply as I loved her but I'd always felt it impossible that she could. No human could ever have felt as strongly as I did for her, there was no way that their fragile bodies could contain the depth of such emotions. Or so I'd thought.
Feeling her fervor and hearing her thoughts almost dropped me to my knees. She'd loved me as I'd loved her, wanted me like I did. That kiss had nearly killed me for as soon as I'd touched my lips to hers, fireworks of sensation had erupted in my body. Her mouth was like fire, but a fire that was pliant and sweet against my lips before she'd burst into full flame all around me. Her hands were in my hair, her body wrapped wantonly around me and the monster that lived inside me snarled in near victory when I very nearly threw her to the ground and took her with the passion I hadn't even known I possessed.
Before her vision wavered yet again I caught a glimpse of myself, completely calm and self possessed, holding her as I centered myself again. Had she been able to read my mind she would know that the onslaught of emotion she'd stirred was raging so fiercely inside me that it didn't settle until much, much later.
Her next memory formed in my mind and it took me a moment to realize what I was hearing as the mental picture she had was, at first, completely dark.
Dying isn't so bad. It feels like drifting actually. Drifting through cool water. If it weren't for this burning in my hand it would be quite peaceful actually. Imagine that. Why is the burning getting worse? Shouldn't all of the sensation be leaving me if I'm dying?
Ah, there it is. An angel's calling me so I must be dead. I just need to reach the angel's voice and it will all be over.
"Carlisle! Bella, Bella, no, oh please, no, no!"
Why is the angel crying? That isn't right, nothing so beautiful should be made to cry like that. If I could just tell him that it's okay, that everything will be all right now, I could make it better. I had done it. I was the one dying instead of Edward. I'd saved him. My perfect Edward, I'd saved him from James. You see angel? There is no reason to cry when someone as wonderful as Edward still exists.
I wanted to sob, to scream, but could only listen as I finally understood why this had been in her top moments. It was one of the most harrowing of my life, seeing my love broken and dying at the hands of one of our kind. I could feel the love for me, even in what could have realistically been her last minutes on earth, punctuating her every thought and I vowed all over again that I would follow Bella anywhere. Her love, truly as deep and true as mine, was so evident that I couldn't wrap my mind around it. I was not a creature worth the level of adoration that Bella was and yet, here was the evidence laid plainly out for me to finally witness for myself.
The pressure of Bella's hands on my head intensified slightly and I could tell she was struggling to maintain this connection with my mind and hers. I barely had time to register that fact before her mind flitted to a new memory and I saw myself standing at the end of the aisle on our wedding day. I could see the adoration for her in my eyes and feel the chaotic mix of emotions running through her head of being both the center of attention and a bride about to meet her groom.
Why in the world had I been so against this? I still don't understand how the look in those soft, buttery eyes of his is only for me but somehow it is and I almost told him that I wouldn't be his? I guess I just took for granted that nothing in the world, marriage or otherwise, would be a strong enough vow for how completely he held my heart anyway. But I suppose I didn't consider how good it would feel for him to vow himself to me. Here, in front of all of our friends and family he is telling them that he loves me as completely as I love him, that he wants me with him forever. Now that I have this, I will hold this moment in my heart forever. Beating or not.
I tenderly reached up and brushed an errant lock of hair from her shoulder, being careful to keep my movement soft so as to not distract her. I just couldn't help myself, so moved was I that she'd felt so strongly on our wedding day. It had meant so much to me to have that rite of passage, to stand before everyone and profess or love in an official capacity. Though she had wept joyful as we took our vows and enjoyed herself during our reception party, I had always felt she was placating me to a degree by going along with it. Hearing her thoughts from that day, knowing unequivocally that it had meant so much to her to become my wife left me undone.
I felt so pleased by the memory coursing through my mind that I didn't immediately notice that it was fading and shifting until I caught an aura of excitement and anticipation in her thoughts. Bringing myself immediately to alert I saw myself standing in the surf, the moonlight illuminating the exposed upper half of my torso to the point that I looked porcelain.
It's just him and me, as it was meant to be. Somehow this flawless man is my husband and somehow he loves me. All I have to do is go to him in that water and make him feel how I feel right now, at ease and certain that nothing bad can happen with as much love as we have between us. Everything is going to be fine, I know it. I also know that I have to touch him. I have to feel him beneath my hands and take my time now that he won't tell me to stop. I need my husband.
A thirst seared the back of my throat as I watched the scene that was burned into my psyche play out from her point of view, a thirst that had nothing to do with blood. I watched as she molded herself to me, listened as she thought about how good I felt to her when I had been convinced that my cold skin had to be unpleasant next to her molten hot flesh. We left the water and butterflies took frantic flight in her stomach while I carried her to the house and placed her on the bed.
I looked intense to her, almost feral, and I had no idea how she could regard me in the state that I now see I was in and not be terrified that I would lose control and hurt her. There wasn't even a moment's hesitation in her mind.
He has never looked at me like this before and I can't believe how much I like it. This was worth waiting through all of the times that he pushed me away, stopped me, told me to slow down. If I ever wondered if he wasn't attracted to me, the look in his eyes now is proof that he is.
I lay on the bed with her and we began what would be our first time. She replayed every touch, every nuance in the best detail she could, given that the memory was human, and I found myself swept up in the moment with her all over again.
Yes Edward, just like that. Mmmmm, don't stop, please don't ever stop touching me. I would trade anything in the world that I have just to make sure that he never stops touching me. He feels so good.
My breath was labored and I realized suddenly that she had been telling the complete and utter truth that next morning when she'd awoken with feathers in her hair and a smattering of bruises across her delicate flesh. She really hadn't registered a moment of displeasure. Clearly I had touched her too hard and though I had long ago stopped berating myself for my lack of perfect control, I had never truly believed her that I hadn't hurt her.
Her thoughts continued on and I watched as we made passionate love, fitting together perfectly from the first moment and her enjoyment made me want to come out of my skin. It was too much, all too much at once. She loved me as fiercely as I loved her, even though I hadn't thought it possible. She had found the profound meaning in our wedding and marriage that had meant so much to me and now I was feeling the proof of her words that she had experienced nothing but total pleasure on our wedding night.
Her memories began to skip forward and I watched as my own hands found her belly, enormous with our child.
He kicks whenever Edward touches me. My little nudger already knows his daddy.
Her thoughts flew past me in a blur, too hazy and rapid for me to catch much of. I was caught up, unable to see more than a glimpse here on there of the people that surrounded her in the last moments of her human life, ending with a picture from her point of view of Renesmee, newly born and smiling. It was the clearest of all of her human memories as it was to be her last.
Then the memories became crystalline in their clarity and I new immediately that we had reached the thoughts that she now wanted to share with me from her vampire mind.
A picture formed in her mind from low on the ground and I realized that she was crouching. I stood in front of my family, my hand outstretched to her, as we all watched her with a mix of anticipation and wariness. My face was much clearer to her with her newfound vampire eyes.
Have I ever seen him before? Can there be anything on this earth more stunning than he is? It's as if I've never looked at his face. I don't think I'll be able to drag my eyes to anything else. I could spend an eternity looking at him and still never understand how this kind of perfection is possible.
Again, giving me credit I didn't deserve, but the remarkable thing was that her thirst was the furthest thing from her mind. No newborn in any of our collective memories had ever taken to their new life with such seamlessness and here I could finally hear what those first moments had been like for her. There was no thirst, no bloodlust. There was, as always, just me. I swallowed hard, humbled.
I watched as I took her face in my hands and lowered my mouth to hers, my family watching our first interchange from across the room.
Don't hurt him. Remember not to hurt him. Remember not to…. Oh his lips are amazing. Feel how soft they are now that mine can stand against them! He isn't holding back, how can it be possible that I can have this? Aren't I supposed to want nothing but blood right now? Isn't thirst supposed to be the dominant emotion here? His tongue is running across my lower lip. Oh god I can't get close enough. I have to get closer. Don't hurt….love….just touch…..oh. Did someone just clear their throat?
I couldn't take much more. I wanted to hear her, to hear all of it, but her thoughts and memories were so intoxicating and so important that I was beginning to unravel. Everything I had believed was being turned on its ear, which should not have surprised me. Bella never reacted how I expected, never did or said what a typical human would have. Her thoughts proved to be as unique as I'd expected. They also proved, all at once, that she'd always been equal in her dedication to me as I to her and the knowledge of that was tearing down every preconceived notion I possessed. I was not going to be able to hold out from taking her in my arms much longer.
Then her thoughts turned to a moment that left me unable to control myself.
The bed. It's exactly like the one on our island. Too bad it's so far away; we just aren't going to make it there.
"We're going to tell Alice that I ran right to the clothes. We're going to tell her I spent hours in there playing dress-up. We're going to lie."
He feels it too. I will never get tired of this new kissing! It feels so good that he can pour his whole strength into it, that he isn't constantly afraid he's going to break me. I feel like electricity is coursing through my veins, even though my heart isn't pumping. It's Edward. He is my heart.
I lost my fragile grip on control and pulled her hard against me, my lips finding hers in a crushing kiss that poured all of my passion and intensity into her so as to relieve myself of even a small fraction of it. The thoughts of us sinking to the floor at the very spot in which we now stood stopped abruptly, as if someone had violently shut a door in front of the image to cut me off from viewing it.
"Oops, I lost it!" She sighed against my lips and I angled my head to deepen the kiss. After a moment I pulled back enough to rest my forehead against hers and try to compose myself.
"I heard you." My voice was ready and breathless in my overwhelmed state and I closed my eyes, trying to reign myself in enough to handle more. I wanted more, I had to hear everything. Why was I able to hear her now, after all this time?
"How? How did you do that?"
I pulled away to look at her serene face as she answered. "Zafrina's idea. We practiced with it a few times."
It had to have something to do with her shield, but I still felt utterly bewildered. This whole time, she had been blocking me and anyone else who was capable of manipulating her mind with their power and she had been completely unaware that she was doing it at all.
I could do nothing but stare as she shrugged, her demeanor nonchalant. "Now you know. No one's ever loved anyone as much as I love you."
My awe was far from diminished but I managed a smile at her coy attempt at flippancy. "You're almost right. I know of just one exception."
I lowered my mouth to hers again as she whispered the word "Liar" against my lips. Oh how I loved her! Every moment was as intense and all consuming as the first for me; such was the nature of love for a vampire. But after what I had just witnessed I would never be the same again. I'd gotten my dearest wish, to hear the incredible and nuanced workings of Bella's mind and what I'd found there had rocked me to my foundation. I had to have more. This newfound gift was like a drug.
Pulling away I looked intently into her eyes. "Can you do it again?"'
She looked unsure and it was in that moment that I realized she was fatigued, or as much so as we ever got. The day had been intense for all of us but I knew that using her shield was possible with no small effort on her part. "It's very difficult."
I didn't want to force her to try if she wasn't feeling up to it but I couldn't bring myself to wait either. Unable to make the call myself I merely stared at her, I'm sure my expression telling her in no uncertain terms that I would very much like to hear her again.
She donned the expression of an indulgent mother, allowing their child one more sweet if they promise to be good. "I can't keep it up if I'm even the slightest bit distracted."
I played my part perfectly. "I'll be good."
She placed her hands on my face again, her narrowed eyes giving way to a smile before she let her lids fall closed again and concentration took hold of her features.
It's a good thing my dress was already ruined because he's managed to make it ribbons in just seconds. I wonder how fast I could rip off his shirt. I love being strong!
She started up just as she'd left off, with us tearing desperately at each other's clothes, eager to make love without fear of injury or harm.
His skin feels so warm and soft against me while his body is still as strong and perfect as I remember; even more so now that I can finally see him. I was a fool to fear giving up my human life because I would never want him as much as I would want blood. I want him more than I could have ever imagined possible. I love it when he runs his hands up and down my back like that. His fingers are so long and his hands are so big but they feel so gentle and strong all at the same time. I need him inside me. I need him so much I feel like I can't breathe!
Before I knew it I'd taken her mouth again, realizing only as I was losing myself to our kiss that I had broken my promise as the walls came down around her thoughts yet again.
She chuckled at my transgression but my mood was now too caught up, too intense for light heartedness. "Damn it." I growled, biting her lower lip gently and then spreading a trail of kisses down her jaw. I couldn't watch anymore, the tether that had held my command over myself had snapped and it would be irreparable tonight.
Picking her up so she straddled my waist I began to walk her to the bed. She wrapped her arms languidly around my neck and kissed my earlobe as she said softly, "We have plenty of time to work on it."
I laid her back on the bed and crawled over top of her, my hands planted into the mattress on either side of her head as I gazed down into her eyes. "Forever and forever and forever."
She smiled and I was sure that I'd never seen anything so breathtaking. "That sounds exactly right to me."
I lowered my lips to hers and thanked whatever power responsible for giving me this gift. For so long I'd had a missing piece, but now I was whole. Bella, my life, my love, had made me whole.
Until the end of days I would never stop being thankful.